November 24, 2014

Grandma's Broccoli Casserole


Broccoli casserole has been a staple of our Thanksgiving dinners for as long as I can remember. It was certainly one of my grandma's specialties and also one of my favorite side dishes to eat (I'd choose it over green bean casserole any day). After my grandmother passed away in 2005, I gladly accepted the responsibility of bringing it to all of our holiday gatherings. It's a simple recipe to follow and I've tried to stick as closely to hers as possible, with the exception of using bacon flavored Ritz crackers instead of the original.

INGREDIENTS:
4 lb of broccoli (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp of mayonnaise
1 (7oz) can of cream of mushroom soup
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers (crushed)
12-16oz of shredded cheddar cheese
3 tbsp of butter (melted)
salt + pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 325°. First, you'll need to cook your broccoli. I'd rather use fresh over frozen, but either is fine. Once it's nice and tender, drain the broccoli and mash it up — this will make for a creamier casserole. I've found that a potato masher comes in handy for this step. But, if you don't own a masher, that's alright. Simply wait for the broccoli to cool and then chop it up so there aren't any large chunks (you could also do this before you begin cooking your broccoli if you'd prefer).

After your broccoli is ready, place it into your casserole dish. Now add in the mayo, cream of mushroom soup, 8oz of your shredded cheddar cheese (the rest will go on top) and salt + pepper to taste. Make sure all of these ingredients are mixed well and smooth it all out in your casserole dish. Now it's time to top it. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (I tend to use a lot since my family loves cheese), followed by the crushed up Ritz crackers and the melted butter. Place tinfoil over the casserole and bake at 325° for about 25 minutes, removing the tinfoil when there's 10 minutes left on the clock. As soon as it's out of the oven and cools down a bit, it's ready to be eaten.

November 21, 2014

Link Your Ink | A Constant Reminder

I'm thrilled to be linking up with two very lovely ladies, Kaitlin (from Sew My Soul) and Cassie (from Sage the Blog), for a new little link-up they've started called 'Link Your Ink'. As soon as I heard about this idea, I was totally on board. I've always loved the art of tattoos. And I love hearing the stories that lie behind tattoo choices even more. I've never really gotten around to sharing about all of mine (I currently have 7 tattoos and plan on getting 3-4 more). Each piece holds a special meaning for me, each one representing something that I have either gone through or something that I believe in. I doubt I could ever put a permanent mark on my body, unless it had meaning.

For those of you who may not know, my dad passed away a little over 2 years ago. It was hard, y'all. The hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. I can't even begin to express to you guys the pain that comes from losing a parent. I've shared a handful of posts about life after loss and I even shared about my memorial tattoo whenever I first got it back in 2012. But, I've since added a little to this piece.


"When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure."

My dad was a Navy man. He sailed the open seas, putting his life on the line in the Vietnam War. While serving, he got a tattoo of a swallow on his arm. Growing up, I used to think it was a sparrow since he never really explained the meaning behind it. After his passing, I did a little research. Come to find out, sailors would tattoo swallows on themselves to represent how many nautical miles they had sailed. One swallow equaled 5,000 miles, two equaled 10,000 miles and so on and so forth. Knowing this made me love this piece even more. Though I know I have yet to sail 5,000 nautical miles, it has since become a goal of mine. Don't worry. I'll catch up to you one day, dad. 

This tattoo is a constant reminder that even though he is absent in this realm, my dad is forever with me. Every time I look down and see my swallow, I'm reminded of the years I was able to share with him, the lessons he taught me and the unconditional love that he showed me. Out of all of my tattoos, this one has had the most feedback from others. Whenever I'm out running errands or at work, people often stop to admire it and tell me how beautiful it is. It's definitely a conversation starter and I really take pleasure in sharing the story it bears.

November 20, 2014

Recent Finds No. 13

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

1. This home office is basically my dream workspace. Bright, yet cozy.

2. Love the idea of upcycling glass bottles for inexpensive holiday decor.

3. White base + dusted gold accents = the perfect Christmas manicure.

4. Basil, bacon and peach baked brie. I bet this recipe tastes heavenly.

5. DIY pine cone garland. Again, simple and inexpensive decor. Love it.

6. Old ways won't open new doors. Couldn't agree with this more!


What's caught your eye lately?

November 16, 2014

Honey Balsamic Brussel Sprouts


Last Sunday I was invited to attend a service at my mom's church (my childhood church). They were doing a study on marriage and there was to be a potluck luncheon afterwards. I joyfully accepted, as G and I have yet to find a church to attend ourselves. I knew that I wanted to make something healthy from the get-go, but I also wanted something that would be easy to prepare since I knew I didn't have much time on my hands. I searched Pinterest high and low, but most of the healthy side dishes that popped up were more elaborate and time consuming than I had hoped. Until, of course, I ran across a recipe for balsamic brussel spouts. After a few tiny adjustments, I had my dish and they were definitely a hit. There were only a few left when it was time to clean up, which was a good sign!

INGREDIENTS:
3 tbsp of olive oil
1½ lbs brussel sprouts (halved)
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ garlic powder
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp of honey

Preheat your oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss the brussel sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, making sure to coat them all thoroughly. Transfer the brussels to your baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they're tender. This takes about 20 minutes. After that, place the brussel sprouts back into the bowl you used to toss them in before. Add in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Continue to toss them until they're evenly coated. At this point, they are ready to be served. You can add more salt and pepper, as you find necessary.